Red-labelled pesticides are smuggled in from Tamil Nadu, where they are not banned
The use of banned red-labelled pesticides has become rampant in cardamom plantations in the district. Since these pesticides are not banned in Tamil Nadu, they are easily smuggled across the border.
Fifteen bottles of red-labelled pesticide were seized from a jeep at the Kumily check-post by excise officials on February 24.
The case was handed over to the Agriculture Department following which managers of a tea plantation at Chakkupallom were booked.
Hundreds of workers arrive from Tamil Nadu daily to work in the plantations on the border regions in Idukki.
The workers are used as carriers of these pesticides. Agents too are involved in the trade. Red-labelled pesticides are widely used in cardamom plantations from January to March. Planters prefer them as they cost less and are more effective than the green-labelled ones.
They are easily water-soluble. Bottles of banned pesticides are thrown in streams after use in remote plantation areas where checking is rare.
Some of the estate managements are in Tamil Nadu and since the pesticides are not banned in that State, they have no qualms about using them. Environmentalists say that the seizure of large quantity of pesticides at the check-post has shone light on an issue that has not been given due attention.
“The banned pesticides are widely used as the agents ensure their availability at many plantations,” says Jayakumar, a resident at a cardamom plantation in Nedumkandam. The manager of a pesticide outlet at Vandanmedu says that if farmers have to shift to the green- or blue-labelled pesticides, the availability of the red-labelled ones has to stop. There are some restrictions on the use of yellow category pesticides too in the State.
Abraham Sebastian, Assistant Director, Agriculture, Peerumade, says that 15 bottles of monocrotophos were seized at the check-post. He suggests a regular inspection at check-posts for banned pesticides. “Though campaigns are organised among farmers against the use of banned pesticides, they choose short-cuts for easy gains and use red category pesticides,” he says.